As someone who came of age at the tail end of music still airing on television, I will always appreciate a music video. This is why I became enamored with Mimi Oz and the video for “Star 111.” We talked not only about the facts and figures behind that, but also her Rooster past, what fans can expect soon, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: Is there anyone you credit with constantly encouraging you to pursue music?
Mimi Oz: The divine. Every time I want to give up on life, and pursue something more ordinary or minimize what I’m capable of, I am reminded by a force greater than myself that it is what I am supposed to be doing and to stick with it. I don’t give others too much credit in terms of the weight or influence they have over decisions that I make in my life.
My mentor, Bob Wiseman, I would also credit. Bob produced and co-wrote some of my first record, I learned a lot from that experience. At times he can be pretty jaded, a lot of people are, unfortunately, since the great work often goes unnoticed. Going a bit off-topic here, but I mostly want to say that he believed in my work and it propelled me to do more with it and challenge myself in ways that helped me grow as an artist. Sometimes you need that affirmation from someone who you admire, trust, and respect. Bob is just incredibly talented so I took his word for it when he liked the nature of what I was doing.
I would also credit my uncle, Denis Lacroix, someone who just understands me and has no judgments. I can’t say he encouraged me to continue, but he sees the truth of who I am as a person and there is comfort in that.
Kendra: When did you decide to leave Toronto and head for New York City?
Mimi Oz: It looks to be about 8 years ago roughly.
Kendra: Did you ever consider Los Angeles as a place to move for your career or were you like, nah – that is a bit too far from Toronto right now?
Mimi Oz: I did think about Los Angeles. The distance was a factor, but also I like the pace of New York City. I have never been to the West Coast, and it’s something I have to do on my next tour.
Kendra: Speaking of, your video for “Star 111” features some amazing architectural aspects of the place you now call home. If we still had Vh1’s wonderful ‘Pop Up Video,’ what would be a top fact about this shoot that’d pop up in one of their little bubbles?
Mimi Oz: The Pop-Up facts would be…
“It was a freezing 34c the day of shooting. Mimi Oz had to be warmed by an oversized fur coat between shots, and take swigs of hot tea to keep it together”
“The dress worn in the video was gifted to the production team from a shoot with designer Misha Nonoo, it happened to fit me like a glove or Cinderella and was chosen for the video as a fluke when all the other costumes were not working.”
“Bob Dylan’s portrait was painted in the room the dancers were shot in, and many artists have passed through the space” and to add to that, “the dancers, Gabrielle Malone, and Andrew Robinson are a real-life couple”
Kendra: On the flip side, the other half of the video features a couple who go through a cascade of emotions from start to finish. Were they part of the original concept for this video from day one?
Mimi Oz: The dancers were always part of the concept for the video, developed by creative director Claudia Delatour, Scott Mason, and myself.
Kendra: Before we talk about more of what’s ahead for you, I have to ask about the video where you’re rocking a rooster mask. It gave me big mid-90s, alternative scene vibes. What was that all about and do you have the mask still?
Mimi Oz: I was in a band called Rooster for a few years. The video you are referring to is for the track “Fucking Bullshit,” I think the song speaks for itself and it is a protest song. At the time I used the symbol of the Rooster as a stage persona in spirit. We had lots of merch that was rooster-inspired, I even dyed my hair red on the top and created a lot of rooster artwork during that period.
The mask I made myself, and I put it on the curb when I moved, it was picked up instantly so someone has a piece of gold out there. Looking back, if I start to dig and think about it, the Rooster for me represented the US, moving here to pursue art. In a way, I was almost mocking the US especially in that song, but the thing is I feel more connected to Americans than I ever did Canadians. I always felt a deep restriction to be who I was living in Toronto, where I am from.
Being in New York gave me that freedom. I think I was channeling a lot of frustration, but not necessarily all my own, I also wanted to say a lot more than I did. I probably had 10 more verses but I had to make some decisions for live performance and continuity in recording. The Rooster was an outlet for me to say the things I wanted to say. Things I found unfair or frustrating, or things I saw society struggling with.
As a group, we were super tight and always stole the show. Members include Joe Yoga, William Pearson, and Lou Cozza. We might come together again, who knows, anything is possible.
Kendra: Back to the now, is “Star 111” the first of a wave of singles to come this year, or are you gearing up for an album release?
Mimi Oz: I’m getting ready for an album release in a few months. It’s a 7-song self-produced studio album entitled ‘Growing Pains,’ which I would describe as my strongest work to date.
Kendra: It’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Mimi Oz: Right now I’m focused on a lot of the back end of finishing an album. I’m also working on an electronic-based EP with beatmaker Left Pop, recording in his Brooklyn studio. I’ve been working on a line of clothing and painting some new posters for this project and the next one, silkscreens and some new merch ideas. I think a new video might be in the works too, I just tend to let music video ideas come to me as they do naturally, so I’ll see if the inspiration strikes.